Finance Minister Mike de Jong issued the province’s Second Quarterly Report on Wednesday, saying the government of B.C. is holding the line on fiscal prudence and continues to reduce and control government spending to address declining revenues.
Highlights of the report include a projected deficit for 2012-13 of $1.47 billion, a $328-million increase from the First Quarterly Report; and a promise to reduce discretionary spending to mitigate the $241-million impact of the natural gas market on revenues.
Columbia River Revelstoke BC Liberal candidate Doug Clovechok says his government remains committed to balancing the 2013/2014 budget and is committed not to spend more money than British Columbia has.
“To do this we must make tough choices and difficult decisions to protect BC’s economy, continue to create more jobs and make life affordable for British Columbian families,” Clovechok said. “That said, we are not immune to global economic downturns and I am not pleased to tell my neighbours that our Second Quarterly report for 2012-2013 projects a deficit of 1.47 billion; a $328 million increase from the First Quarterly report. Tough news but these negative numbers are not unique to BC. In fact we are actually better positioned than Alberta with their projected deficit to be between $2.3 and $3 billion.
“The question for BC is why? There has been a $202 million downturn in revenues from the First Quarterly Report projection from decreases in revenues from property tax and property transfer tax, the sale of LNG and a decline in coal prices.”
British Columbians shouldn’t have to ask why, says Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.
“In the Legislature last spring our Finance critic pointed out that projections for natural gas revenues were unrealistic,” Macdonald said. “That’s been held up by the reality of the last two fiscal updates. Again this year the deficit will be well over $1 billion. The suggestions by the Premier that they will produce a balanced budget are not credible.”
“What is really important is to let my constituents know that their governments record of fiscal discipline continues to pay off,” Clovechok said. “British Columbia’s export markets, low debt to GDP ratio, our AAA credit rating, low taxes, and our continued efforts towards managing spending means that our province still remains well positioned to weather what continues to be called a very fragile global economic condition. BC continues to have a bright future however we have to continue to be fiscally responsible.”
Macdonald says the BC Liberals could begin by showing some fiscal responsibility when it comes to advertising costs.
“If there needs to be cuts, why not in advertising? There is currently $50 million coming out of contingencies for advertising. Anyone who has seen the ads knows that a good percentage of them are partisan. Some ads are still suggesting a balanced budget.”
Macdonald also points to the Quarterly Report mentioning keeping promises on the PST.
“It’s ridiculous it took such a long time to get back to the PST. A new system was implemented in 11 months. We are now 19 months from the referendum and 27 or 28 months since the petition indicated the HST was being rejected.”
If the BC Liberals are going to try to make the return of the PST an election issue, Macdonald said, it would be one of the most bizarre strategies ever.
“The whole HST experience has been a fiasco.”